Testimony Before the Oregon Board of Forestry Regarding Updated Monitoring Strategy

Click here to read the full testimony with attached memorandum by aquatic ecologists Frissell and Nawa

On behalf of the Oregon Stream Protection Coalition (OSPC), I thank you for considering my input on implementation your updated monitoring strategy. Staff work to pull together input from various stakeholders has resulted in an updated list of important compliance and effectiveness questions, but Board direction and ongoing oversight will be critical to ensuring that monitoring resources are
deployed in ways that best serve the public interest.

My comments support two requests:

1. We urge the Board to direct monitoring staff to begin work in support a riparian rule change to meet the water quality standards for stream temperature in the Siskiyou -­-­ whether or not this project is linked to a rule change in Eastern Oregon. We believe that there is adequate support for a resource degradation finding for failure to meet the PCW based on a full examination of existing literature and research. We provide a memorandum that helps lay a template for what kinds of existing data should be considered before
designing further field monitoring projects.

Specifically, we request that the Board bring the Work Plan item related to Riparian Policy in the Siskiyou and the Eastside off of “hold” and direct that the monitoring staff produce a report to the Board that answers the following questions:

What available information indicates that:
a) the findings of the RipStream study with regard to stream warming are/ are not reasonably applicable to the small and medium Salmon and Steelhead streams of the Siskiyou? Of the Eastside?
b) the relationship between shade and stream warming on Small and Medium streams of the Siskiyou is/is not different than the relationships established in ODF’s predictive modeling for western Oregon? Of the Eastside?

2. We further urge the Board to consider the need to provide the public with some kind of tangible monitoring and adaptive management response to the full range of forest practices issues identified by EPA and NOAA in their 2015 disapproval of Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution control measures. This
means developing a plan for addressing the adequacy of current rules to protect water quality on non-­SSBT fish streams, non-­fish streams, minimizing forest-­practices related alteration of landslide regimes, and addressing problem impacts from older roads on private forests.

I. Lack of Information not a Reason for Inaction in the Siskiyou

The attached memorandum by aquatic ecologists Frissell and Nawa (11 pp) strongly supports our contention that an entirely new “RipStream” study is not necessary to support a rule change to meet the Protecting Coldwater Criterion in the Siskiyou. Frissell and Nawa find that: 1) “there is adequate information at hand for the Board to find that the current riparian rules do not meet the statewide limitation on stream warming set by the
Protecting Coldwater Criterion (PCW) and to determine what stream protection would be adequate in the Siskiyou region.”

We summarize the key findings of the memo as follows;

• Even though none of the Ripstream field data were collected in the Siskiyou, because available Siskiyou-­specific data are consistent with these data, existing information provides a rational basis to presume the PCW is not being met on numerous small and medium salmon, steelhead and bull trout (SSBT) streams throughout western Oregon -­-­ with the possible exception of some higher-­
elevation streams in the Cascades.

• Available information does not indicate the relationship between shade and stream warming on Small and Medium streams in the Siskiyou is different than the relationships established in ODF’s predictive modeling for western Oregon.

• Available data suggest ecological differences between the Siskiyou and other regions of western Oregon have relatively little effect on stream temperature and riparian shade relations. If differences do exist, there is no reason to believe they would modify the basic causal relation between forest shade reduction and warming of streams, and they do not undermine the clear relevance of the
RipStream findings to Southwest Oregon.

• The only possible exceptions to the above conclusions are Siskiyou streams draining watersheds with certain geologies and soils where forests are too sparse to support commercial forestry, most of which are in federal ownership.

• Geologic and hydrologic conditions in the Siskiyou do not appear to cause Siskiyou streams to be inherently warmer under natural conditions, but to the extent they affect shade-­temperature relations, regional ecological differences possibly increase, rather than decrease the sensitivity of Siskiyou streams to shade loss.

• The fact that in 1994 the Board chose to set a 10ft2 per acre lower minimum conifer basal area when it set standards for riparian logging in the Siskiyou does not logically relate to the Board’s decision to exclude the Siskiyou from the new rule. Until specific information is available to substantiate an hypothesized
departure of stream temperature conditions and causal relationships for the region, it is irrational and unjustified to exclude Siskiyou streams from the protections afforded those in other western Oregon regions. This information qualifies some of the statements made in previous ODF staff reports. For
example,: 1) “systematic review of literature that contained primary measurements of stream temperature, riparian shade, or a proxy of the latter” completed in January 2013, found “no relevant studies in the Siskiyou region.” (Agenda Item 5, 4.27.16 Board materials); 2) “[w]ith the Board’s November [2015] decision not to extend the riparian rule results to the Siskiyou region, the department does not have temperature monitoring evidence related to forest practices in that region.” We hope the Board agrees that the lack
of ODF monitoring sites in the Siskiyou in the RipStream study does not mean that those data are therefore not relevant and could not have been reasonably extrapolated to support a rule change or that there is not other information –including but not limited to
that cited by Frissell and Nawa -­-­ that supports such extrapolation.

We urge the Board not to defer action to address riparian protection needs in the Siskiyou, recognizing that this region is part of the Coastal Zone and inaction here relates directly to
the current coastal nonpoint plan disapproval by NOAA and EPA.

II. How do the CZARA Findings figure in to the Board’s implementation of the monitoring strategy?

Given the 2015 and repeated earlier NOAA and EPA findings related to the insufficiencies of Oregon’s forest-­practices rules to meet coastal water pollution control expecatations, OSPC
constituents do not have a clear picture of what the Department’s response is to those findings other than the coldwater protection rulemaking which deals only with a small subset of the issues. We request that the Board consider the adequacy of riparian
protection on non SSBT small and medium fish streams and nonfish streams to be of priority concern to Oregonians, as well as the adequacy of forest practices rules to prevent increased risk to aquatic resources from management on sites at high risk of mass wasting and from older roads. These issues should be explicitly addressed in developing the Board’s monitoring Work Plan.

Mary Scurlock, Coordinator
Oregon Stream Protection Coalition